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New fire truck arrives at Syncrude ready to meet demands of oil sands operations

Jan 17, 2019

Syncrude recently rolled out a brand new fire truck on site. A unit that combines the best of pumper and rescue abilities.

Adding a new truck to the Syncrude fleet of response vehicles took months of planning and preparation, and involved many hands. Emergency Services worked with Fort Garry Fire Trucks, a Canadian company based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and the process took more than a year from start to finish.

“It’s not like we could just walk into a dealership and say, ‘We’ll take that one,’” explains Glenn Chaulk, Team 502 Emergency Coordinator. “A new truck had to be designed and built for our operational needs and the environment we work in.”

Project Manager Gratziella Lica collaborated with Emergency Services to design the new custom truck. Along with supporting the Fire Hall’s newest addition, Gratziella has worked with Emergency Services for more than five years on projects from smaller equipment to the monster Aircraft Response Firefighting Units (ARFF). The mechanical engineer has gained enough insight into their needs to provide feedback on specific equipment and guide decisions.

“Projects like this are so exciting and really lift you up,” says Gratziella, who specializes in heavy industrial equipment. “Our operations continue to grow and the business needs continue to evolve. The dual purpose of this new truck reflects that. Everything has a very specific purpose. This unit includes critical equipment with pumper and fire capabilities, all at the tip of their fingers.”

This particular fire truck performs the work of two response vehicles. It carries up to 600 imperial gallons of water. This can be a critical commodity for Emergency Services depending on the isolation of a call they receive, such as an emergency on the highway.

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(Syncrude Fire Specialist Clayton Mercieca examines the controls of the new emergency response vehicle.)

“Some rescue situations need water and it’s not always readily available. A fire may be easy to control, but only if the resources such as water are available. It can make all the difference when we’re working with limited staffing, which can happen,” says Aaron Morrison, Team 504 Captain, Emergency Response, who was also part of the project.

The new truck also allows response to events with fewer people. Instead of requiring two operators for a rescue truck and a fire truck, one individual can operate the new fire truck and have the best of both worlds. “This vehicle offers the capabilities of both so one individual can respond to an incident and the other can operate the equipment,” Aaron says.

Every Syncrude Fire Specialist is trained to operate each piece of response equipment in the fleet, such as their off-road unit, boat, ARFF, water trucks and medic. Everyone in the department will receive training on the new truck so the teams will continue to do what they do best at Syncrude.

“There are times when we literally walk through fire for the people we work with,” says Glenn. “The equipment we use can help make the difference in ensuring we have a really good day.”